Monday, April 07, 2008

Dr. Oz and the HealthCorps

In today's NY Sun, the paper focuses on the health education work of Dr. Mehmet Oz: "Fueled by the operating room experience, Dr. Oz has made it his mission to educate people on ways to avoid cardiovascular disease. “When I see foods, I see drugs,” he said, referring to the processed foods many people consume."

As part of this educational mission Dr. Oz founded the HealthCorps seven years ago. Now, thanks to a grant of over $2 million that City Council Health Chair Joel Rivera and his colleagues provided last year, the HealthCorps is operating in twenty eight NYC high schools: "Targeting children represents a specific strategy. “When you teach high school kids something, you get a multiplier benefit. They audit their refrigerators,” he said, describing a teenager foraging for a snack. “I recognized that these kids, not only do they get it, they talk about it.”

The key aspect of the HC strategy is to generate the kind of health activism that will help to transform the communal as well as the individual life styles and behaviors that are leading to all of the city's health problems. It's a lot more cost-effective to change the behaviors that lead to disease, than to have to intervene medically later on. As Dr. Oz has said, the country can't afford to utilize his cardiac surgical services on a mass scale-people need to change or the current health care crisis will really mushroom out of control.